How do Dogs Show Affection?

How do Dogs Express Affection
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There is no question that the quiet companionship of a dog greatly enriches our lives. We love our dogs, and we have no doubt that our dogs love us. However, how a dog expresses its affection can be quite different to our own instinctive habits for sharing our love. When it comes to displaying their feelings, How Do Dogs Show Affection?

How Do Dogs Show Affection to their Owners?

How a dog expresses its affection is quite different to how we, as humans, display our feelings of love towards our dogs. Since dogs are a different species than we are, they communicate in their own unique way. To truly understand our dog’s emotions, a careful study of their actions towards us can help us to pinpoint the precise ways they display the sentiment “I love you.”

Here are some of the most common ways dogs express their affection towards their owners:

Nose nudges

Nose nudges are a common way for dogs to gain the attention of their owners. Whether it is a nudge of a hand to encourage a pat on the head or a belly rub or a gentle nosing to suggest moving over to make room for them, dogs are very good at using their noses to communicate their desire for contact with the people they love most.

Contented sighs

Much as with their human counterparts, sighing is a mode of communication dogs employ often. Dogs that engage in a hearty stretch followed by a languid, contented sigh are expressing that they feel their happiest when in the presence of their favorite person.

Establishing eye contact

Though not all dogs engage in eye contact; for those that do, it is a deeply personal expression of both loyalty and affection. Many dogs will attempt to make eye contact with their owners to convey their desire for something; be it a toy, a bone, a walk, or something entirely different. But dogs that regularly establish then maintain eye contact with their owners are expressing the intensity of their trust in their owner.

When a dog chooses to gaze upon the person they love most, their body releases oxytocin, a powerful hormone associated with the development of strong bonds. It is this chemical that is released when a mother dog is nursing her puppies, intensifying her feelings of love and protection towards them.

Exuberant licking

Kissing is not a new phenomenon for humans or for dogs. Licking, when expressed between two dogs, is a common means of communicating each dog’s role in the established pack hierarchy. While licking may not necessarily mean our dogs love us, it most definitely could be Fido’s way of expressing his feelings of loyalty and respect for our leadership position in the home.

Excited jumping

Jumping is an easy way for dogs to gain easier access to their owners. Though not everyone enjoys having a dog jump on them, it is the best means for a dog to get closer to the object of their affection. Because dogs are hardwired to intuit the emotions of their owners simply by looking at their faces, getting as close as possible to that area of the body is an important component in understanding the hearts of their owners.

How Do Dogs Show Affection to other Dogs?

Though dogs do display some of the same affectionate behaviors towards their pack members as towards their humans, others do differ fairly substantially.

How Do Dogs Express Affection2 How Do Dogs Show Affection?

The most common ways dogs shows affection for other dogs include:

Ritualistic sniffing

Since dogs possess an immensely powerful sense of smell, sniffing is an important means of identifying other family members. Dogs will commonly sniff other dogs to gain information about them. This set of criteria can include the health of their bodies, what they have recently eaten, and where they have been. All of these elements are an important means of expressing care for pack members.

Licking of muzzles

Much as with human beings, dogs will often lick the faces of other dogs. This is an expression of submissiveness and conveys acceptance of the authority of the dog whose muzzle is being licked. It is a voluntary behavior that carries with it a depth of emotion which can only be explained as loyalty and love for a higher ranked pack member.

Snuggling

Though dogs do enjoy snuggling close by the side of their owners, this behavior expressed towards another dog is indicative of a high level of trust and loyalty. In the wild, dogs would need to cuddle close to one another for warmth and protection. How do dogs express affection? The ways a dog says “I love you” can vary from dog to dog, but most commonly snuggles, nose nudges, eye contact, and kisses are among Fido’s fave ways to convey he thinks you’re the bomb!

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Jason Homan
Jason Homan is a copywriter, editor, and Baptist pastor who makes his home in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, with his wife Debbie and their seven dogs. The couple breeds award-winning Parson and Jack Russell Terriers under the kennel name Bristol Abbey. Active in their local dog community, Jason and Debbie participate in such events as conformation and dog performance sports and are also involved in the rescue. They share their home with their four Parsons Branson, Bridget, Jackson, and Gigi and their three Jack Russells Beckham, Dior, and Posh.